With Risen Star win, War of Will establishes himself as Kentucky Derby contender

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War of Will with jockey Tyler Gaffalione

It was a war of will, literally.

As the favorite in the 47th Risen Star Stakes, War of Will proved his mettle against a solid field in capturing the Louisiana Derby and Kentucky Derby prep Saturday at Fair Grounds Race Course.

With the win, War of Will garnered 50 valuable points toward qualifying for the Kentucky Derby May 4 at Louisville.

Winning by two and a half lengths over Country House, War of Will was clearly the best horse. Roiland finished third.

War of Will proved that he can handle any situation, having to overcome the 14th pole position. To do so, jockey Tyler Gaffalione had to run War of Will early to get positioned correctly. Despite doing so, Gaffalione still had the most horse down the stretch.

It was the third straight victory for War of Will, who won the Lecomte Stakes by four lengths.

The term “horses for courses” applies to some in the business. While trainer Mark Casse hopes that is not the case with his horse, Casse is most likely to run War of Will in the Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds March 23.

By showing he can run early and still have plenty in the tank late, War of Will showed the world that he can get the distance required in the Triple Crown races to come. That is good news for horse racing fans in the New Orleans area.

On the second biggest racing day of the season at the Gentilly oval, Silver Dust won the Mineshaft Stakes with Jack Gilligen aboard. Harlan Punch was second with Flameaway third. Favorite Lone Sailor of GMB Racing Stables finished a disappointing fifth.

With the win, Silver Dust qualified for the New Orleans Handicap on Louisiana Derby day March 23.

Favored Synchrony captured the Fair Grounds Handicap with Joe Bravo aboard. Bandua was second with Markitoff third. The win sets Synchrony up for the Muniz Memorial Handicap.

Serengeti Empress captured the 39th running of the Rachel Alexandria Stakes by nearly five lengths in a very impressive run, earning 50 points toward the Kentucky Oaks May 3rd at Churchill Downs.

It was a huge bounce-back win with James Graham in the saddle. Serengeti Mpress had finished seventh most recently in the Breeders’ Juvenile Fillies on Nov. 2.

Liora was second with Eres Tu finishing third. Serengeti Empress is pointing to the Fair Grounds Oaks next on March 23.

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Ken Trahan

Ken Trahan

Chief Executive Officer

Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…

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